The Kennel Club has announced the five remarkable Young Kennel Club (YKC) members who have been nominated for the prestigious Shaun McAlpine Outstanding Young Person award, which celebrates the hard-working, inspirational and selfless actions of young dog lovers.
The Shaun McAlpine Outstanding Young Person award is the highest award for YKC members, and celebrates young people who are demonstrating their love of dogs as well as encouraging others to become a part of the dog world.
For over thirty years, Ed and Cindy McAlpine have presented the Shaun McAlpine Trophy at Crufts in memory of their son, Shaun, who had himself achieved considerable success as a dog handler.
Previous winners of the annual competition have been selected for their volunteering and fundraising for dog charities, helping to organise dog activities in the local community and for assisting others through training, stewarding and mentoring.
This year the five finalists, who were selected by a public vote, are:
• Young Braveheart of the Year
Daily life has always been a struggle for 15 year-old Daisy Buckland from Sutton-in-Ashfield in Nottinghamshire, who suffers with selective mutism and Asperger syndrome. Despite being a bright pupil, Daisy finds it extremely hard to interact and speak to adults outside of her home environment, which makes everyday life at secondary school a tough challenge for her. Since taking part in agility with her six year-old Border Terrier, Charlie, Daisy’s family have noticed a dramatic change in her. She has slowly started to communicate with the adults at her agility club, has competed in a friendly agility competition and won five rosettes. Her face lights up every time she gets positive comments at her agility classes and recently felt confident enough to attend her agility club’s Christmas party with Charlie. This was very much out of Daisy’s comfort zone, but doing so has given her a new found burst of confidence, which left her smiling for days.
• Champion Volunteer of the Year
Laura Bethan Williams, aged 23, volunteers for over 20 hours a week at various dog, children and adult charities whilst working as a full time primary school teacher. Her selfless behaviour has even extended out to fundraising and volunteering for disadvantaged children, animals and communities abroad.
In the world of dogs, Laura volunteers as an instructor at a local companion dog club and gives her time to her favourite dog charities by volunteering as steward at their pet shows, as well as raising much needed funds for dog charities through sponsored walks and fundraisers.
Outside of the dog world. Laura still manages to find time to volunteer in her local community by running a Rainbow group for young girls, playing in a youth marching band to help young members develop their confidence, and volunteering at a club for adults with learning disabilities. She has managed to successfully combine her love of dogs and education and walked local dogs for donations towards a trip that she funded to work with disadvantaged children and animals in communities outside of the UK. Most recently, she has taken her fundraising and volunteering to another level and raised over £7,000 to visit Madagascar to work in the rainforest developing habitat for local animals.
• Good Buddy of the Year
18 year-old Liam Landymore from Beaworthy, Devon, suffers with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression caused by a traumatic event eight years ago. He finds attending school a real challenge due to severe anxiety and panic attacks. In 2012, Liam took a turn for the worse and his depression became extremely worrying. His family were running out of options to keep Liam safe, as nothing seemed to be working. It was an extremely difficult time for Liam and he just didn’t want to live anymore. His family decided to get help from Dogs Helping Kids (DHK), a unique charity dedicated to using highly trained dogs to help children. From here, Liam’s dog, Charlie, started his training with DHK to become Liam’s support school dog. Having Charlie in Liam’s life has made all the difference and the two formed a unique bond through positive training was Charlie gave Liam the courage to live life again.
Liam felt so passionate about the charity that he has started to promote and raise money for DHK and is now a Dogs Helping Kids Young Ambassador and teenage advisor. Last November, Liam noticed the lack of young men training dogs so formed his own extension to the charity, aptly named Liam's Men on Board, to address this. Liam hopes to be a top dog behaviourist and trainer when he leaves school, but most importantly he wants to continue to work alongside DHK to help other children like him.
• Sporting Talent of the Year
19 year-old Antonia Leech from Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire has achieved so much through her hobby of showing dogs over the last ten years. She has experienced numerous successes in the YKC but her highest achievement to date is winning YKC National Handler of the Year which allowed her to represent the UK at the World Dog Show in Moscow last year. Antonia claimed second place in the final last June with five-year-old Pharaoh Hound Bella, owned breeder Maria Evteeva from the world renowned Russian 'Reedly Road' kennel, becoming the first UK representative in eighteen years, and the first YKC member ever, to be placed at the show.
Her achievements in YKC stakes and handling are too many to mention and she has worked hard to become well respected in the showing and handling world. This year she had 109 junior and adult handlers enter when she judged at Southern Counties Championship Show and she is a credit and inspiration to YKC members and undoubtedly inspires other young dog lovers.
• Fundraiser of the Year
Over the last two years, 12 year-old Mariann Bayliss from Stourbridge, West Midlands has raised money for several dog charities after initially raising £75 from selling loom bracelets for Children In Need. She began selling her handmade items at agility shows, school events and even via Facebook, all for different charitable causes. Last year she raised £150 for Dogs Trust in Evesham by making and selling dog bandanas; she wanted the money to help look after dogs which are less fortunate than her own. One of her recent projects, making tuggy toys and leads, raised £180 which she split between the Cinnamon Trust and Agility Against Cancer. Mariann chose the Cinnamon Trust because they offer a vital service to elderly and ill people, helping them care for their pets when they are not able to. Agility Against Cancer was an easy choice to make as the charity was originally set up to help a former member of her agility club where many of her friends were also involved in raising funds.
Speaking about the finalists, YKC Chairman, Gerald King, said: “Congratulations to our five outstanding finalists – they are a credit to their generation and their stories really highlight the difference a dog can make in a person’s life or vice versa. Each year we receive incredible entries for young people and everyone who received a nomination should be proud of the work they have achieved, especially our five finalists – we look forward to seeing them at Crufts.”
The winners from each category have been invited to Crufts 2017 on Sunday 12th March for a special presentation ceremony and each will receive an exclusive YKC ambassador’s badge and award. As well as being crowned the Shaun McAlpine Outstanding Young Person of the Year, there is also a prize fund up to £750 which will be used towards helping the winner progress their love of dogs. The overall winner will be decided via an online vote open to all on Facebook.
Visit www.facebook.com/YoungKennelClub to register your vote and show your support for these inspirational young people. The voting will close on Friday 3rd March 2017.